So, where is my horse journey going? Should I continue? Should I give up? Am I a failure? Do I have any talent? Do I have savvy? Can I only talk the talk but not walk the walk? Do I have the right horses? Can I, should I, am I giving up on mine? Can I put any more energy into this? These are questions that hit me hard yesterday, the thoughts, that through my tears, my dear friend Clare and my dear husband Rick, tried to help me understand.
As I type this, keeping my emotional fitness in check (aka tears) is difficult. But this post is necessary no matter how difficult. This reflection is part of the journey and an important one. It is one that demands me to be honest, logical, practical, and face realities that are not the easiest to accept. I share this with you all in hopes that if anyone else is facing a journey like mine, that you know you are not alone, are not a failure, and that it must be just another challenge we have to live through in the wonderful world of horses.
I acquired another horse, Whiskey (Jan 2004), a RBI Arabian gelding, not rideable yet (not started) but had potential. I was told he had special needs of a small herd , that a person with natural horsemanship-type mannerisms was best as he was a sensitive horse, and so I took him (he was free). He was an ex-A-rated halter horse, he was unable to cope with the shows and their high demands I was told. I was told by a few professionals that he was a danger to himself and others and to euthanize him, I refused to do so or believe that any horse is hopeless. So, I eventually started him under saddle too, myself, bareback, with a halter and lead (I am not saying I do this right, just what I do). We have had a complicated relationship but have made progress. We have had many successful arena and trail rides, many successes mounted and unmounted in the play ground, we have been out in public without incident! The biggest issue is that Whiskey's emotional fitness is extremely questionable and situational, he can be extreme to the point of scaring most people. Our horsenalitities/personalities are total opposites as you swa wtih the "Meeting in the Middle" post. However, I have continued to stick with him, I have a better relationship with him, but wow is he a perplexing horse.
I also acquired (rescued) a couple of other horses after Whiskey. Stella (winter 2005/2006) was an Arabian half sister to Fosse, she was rehabilitated (weight and founder) and eventually became a great lesson horse at a local farm. Wilbur my Thoroughbred (October 2005) was a wonderful partner (not without his own demons) who took me officially through level 1 and was retired and rehomed. Finally, Mini-me (March 2007), a little mini horse rescue was rehabilitated (feet) and redeveloped (level 1/2 online) and placed with a 10 year old who loves him to pieces. These three horses were never meant to stay with me, they were all rescues destined for different places in their lives, I just knew it. But, somehow, for some reason, Fosse and Whiskey have become life partners, no matter what.
In any event, I was left feeling terrible, sad, depressed, inadequate, like a failure, embarrassed, and the list goes on. I spend an inordinate amount of money on my horse addiction, a ton of time (but I know I need more hands-on time...my schedule has been difficult). I also questioned why I continue to try to proceed down my Parelli path with Whiskey as my levels horse (he became "the one" when I placed Wilbur). Would I ever even get through level 2 with this horse? I know I can get through level 4 but, on what horse? I have Whiskey the gorgeous nut case and Fosse, a beautiful, great horse, with a heart condition. What do I do? I tried hard yesterday to keep my composure in front of the people at the event but, with Clare (on the phone) and Rick (on the phone and in person), I could let go a little and the tears of frustration flowed, my words flowed, but was I making any sense?
To be honest, I feel frustrated about something in particular. The people at the event rode their horses, had fun, I am happy for them, I really am. But the time I put into my relationship with my horse, I should have too. How can it be that I have all of this knowledge and skill and yet, I am struggling with my horse? I've put years into him! I worry that I looked like an idiot (but I know I am not one)! I want to be a great example of PNH and this is not helping.
So where do I go? The first step is acknowledgment of the good and the bad of yesterday's event and a few other pieces of this puzzle:
- I brought a lot of money to the event for the cause.
- We explored a new place.
- We practiced tacking up with different tack, several times.
- We did play on the ground and got in some ride time.
- I had enough savvy to ensure that neither Whiskey or I was injured on the ground or while riding.
- Whiskey did not bite me while mounted.
- My horse did eventually load on the trailer, calmly, and I was able to take him home.
- Whiskey was fine when we got home.
- I went back to the event with my dish to pass (and Rick) and didn't just hide at home after this stressful day of humiliation.
- Fosse is a fun and safe horse who is forgiving. (Not sure about away from the farm, never tried it yet.)
- Fosse is a potential levels horse for me.
- I can always acquire another horse.
- Whiskey went extreme RBE which is a bad place for any horse (or human).
- Whiskey was a danger to himself and others.
- Whiskey does not seem to be a levels prospect for me if I want to get through the levels in this lifetime (or the next 3-5 years). This is hard to accept. Is it reality or have I not done enough for him to prove himself?
- Fosse has a medical condition. I can ride him but to what extent is an unknown, can he really be a levels horse?
- I don't want another horse but I may have to get one. (Do I have the room, time, or devotion in my heart?)
- I am not going to quit.
- I am going to breathe.
- I am not going to cry.
- I am going to make a concerted effort to play with the horses every day including some riding.
- Rick and I are going to assess our facilities and try to get some lighting put up for the darker months to come.
- I am going to seek out the use of a local indoor arena for the winter months.
- I will consider a third horse but only if it happens to come my way--no seeking out a horse.
- A new horse must be a levels prospect, rideable, sane.
- I will not take in another rescue horse at this time.
- I will get through level 4 (as Clare would say, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise.")
- I won't give up on Whiskey but put him on the back-burner, take off the pressure from the both of u regarding levels and official assessments, play dates, trail rides, etc. I will just play at home with him.
- I will try to use Fosse as my levels horse.
For now, I think the crying and sorrow is gone. Frustration is really not a good word to describe the events yesterday. The appropriate description is that I felt sad that I could not participate the way I wanted to and also felt a terrible and painful sorrow for Whiskey because of his mental state and the fact that I did everything I could but it seems he needed something more. I just don't know what. I do know that most people would never deal with him, everyone I know (including Clare) say they'd never ride him and most people tell me to give up--but I cannot. I know this horse has something to offer, he is worth my time and money, even if he ends up just being a beautiful lawn ornament. In all seriousness, I know he is more than a lawn ornament as we have had successful times together. I just don't know that he is the best horse for what I am trying to accomplish (then again, maybe I am wrong).
Thanks for reading, I am sure I forgot stuff, there is just too much to digest. I needed to at least get this stuff out there. *sigh*